Virtual Screening Room: La Haine

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1995 • dir Mathieu Kassovitz w/Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui • 97 min

Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with LA HAINE, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Cassel), Hubert (Koundé), and Saïd (Taghmaoui) – a Jew, an African, and an Arab – give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, LA HAINE is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis. – Janus Films

“Mathieu Kassovitz’s classic of banlieue rage has been rereleased after 25 years with a new urgency and relevance in the Black Lives Matter era. What comes across now isn’t the “hate” of the title, more the aimless, directionless comedy of three guys hanging around, bantering and squabbling about things such as which cartoon character is the most badass. It is touches like this which make you realise how very 90s it all is, similar to Tarantino and Trainspotting (with a nod to Taxi Driver’s “You talkin’ to me?” scene) but it also has a little something of the French New Wave, the world of Jacques Rivette’s Paris Belongs to Us, all of which influenced the later Americans. It’s a film about which I’ve had fluctuating views. Perhaps as a result of having watched it so much, I greeted the 10th-anniversary rerelease with some grumpy contrarianism. Now I think it simply looks superb. … An unmissable response to an unending emergency.”
– Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian